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Marga Richter

Marga Richter

Sharon Mirchandani
Series: Women Composers
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 192
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  • Book Info
    Marga Richter
    Book Description:

    This is the first full-length introduction to the life and works of significant American composer Marga Richter (born 1926), who has written more than one hundred works for orchestra, chamber ensemble, dance, opera, voice, chorus, piano, organ, and harpsichord. Still actively composing in her eighties, Richter is particularly known for her large-scale works performed by ensembles such as the London Philharmonic Orchestra and the Civic Orchestra of Chicago and for other pieces performed by prominent artists including pianist Menahem Pressler, conductor Izler Solomon, and violinist Daniel Heifetz. _x000B__x000B_Interspersing consideration of Richter's musical works with discussion of her life, her musical style, and the origins and performances of her works, Sharon Mirchandani documents a successful composer's professional and private life throughout the twentieth century. Covering Richter's formative years, her influences, and the phases of her career from the 1950s to the present, Mirchandani closely examines Richter's many interesting, attractive musical works that draw inspiration from distinctly American, Irish/English, and Asian sources. Drawing extensively on interviews with the composer, Mirchandani also provides detailed descriptions of Richter's scores and uses reviews and other secondary sources to provide contexts for her work, including their relationship to modern dance, to other musical styles, and to 1970s feminism._x000B_

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09449-1
    Subjects: History, Music

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xiv)
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  6. 1 The Early Years: 1926–1951
    (pp. 1-23)

    ON OCTOBER 21, 1926, Florence Marga Richter was born in Reedsburg, Wisconsin, the heart of the American Midwest. The strong musical upbringing Marga Richter received, combined with the midwestern values of hard work and independence, was the foundation out of which she grew to compose a large, distinctive body of works over her lifetime. Her music is primarily in the style and genres of Western art music and at times draws inspiration from distinctly U.S., Irish/English, and Asian sources. Nearly all of her music, including her orchestral works, has received performances. It has been rare for women to compose large-scale...

  7. 2 Modern Dance and the MGM Recordings: 1951–1960
    (pp. 24-45)

    AFTER HER GRADUATION from Juilliard, Richter moved to 308 West 107th Street, where she enjoyed having her first apartment all to herself. Living in New York City with its myriad of artistic opportunities was a great advantage for a composer, and she was able to attend fine traditional and new music concerts, visit museums, and partake in the cultural life of the city. However, earning a living was a significant concern for Richter, and she reflected on her own initial uncertainty after graduation.

    I suddenly said, “Well here I am, I have my master’s degree. I don’t know what to...

  8. 3 Fragments: 1960s
    (pp. 46-57)

    U.S. COMPOSERS IN THE 1960s (e.g., Carter, Varèse, Babbitt, and Cage) gravitated toward total serialism, electronic music, or chance music. Richter never found these styles appealing and did not adopt them. She did reluctantly respond to the trend of composing sparse, economical, and atonal works. She began to compose shorter, more fragmented works that had little or no development and were not as expansive as her earlier (and later) works.

    The added responsibilities of motherhood may have also encouraged shorter works, although Richter said she did not consider this a factor in her compositional decisions and never viewed motherhood as...

  9. 4 Landscapes: 1970s
    (pp. 58-84)

    DURING THE 1970S Richter created some of her most important works: two large-scale orchestral scores, Landscapes of the Mind I and Blackberry Vines and Winter Fruit; two chamber music scores, Landscapes of the Mind II and Landscapes of the Mind III; and two significant piano pieces, Remembrances and Requiem, inspired by personal relationships. The music is her response to the beauty she found in nature, and intimacy.

    Richter also became increasingly aware of the need to promote her own music. She recalls:

    In 1974 I began to understand that I needed to become more proactive in regard to furthering my...

  10. 5 Expansion: 1980s
    (pp. 85-101)

    THE COMPOSITIONAL ATMOSPHERE of the 1980s was extraordinarily varied. Some composers continued to compose serial, electronic, and chance music. Others wrote sound-mass music and sound poetry, used environmental sounds, and became performance artists. Richter continued to go her own way. Eager to continue her 1970s success, she wrote primarily symphonic and chamber music but also returned to writing vocal and choral music, all in a richly chromatic language.

    In 1980 Richter completed her Spectral Chimes/Enshrouded Hills for three orchestral quintets and orchestra. She had begun work on it in 1978 after she received her first National Endowment for the Arts...

  11. 6 Culmination: 1990s
    (pp. 102-112)

    DURING THE 1990S, the compositional world was still fragmented with composers working in serial and electronic music, performance art, and numerous other styles. Richter continued to prefer working in traditional mediums and created music for chorus, orchestra, opera, and voice. Her compositions were fewer in number during this decade, but large in scale for the most part. Richter also dealt more explicitly with profound themes in her music during this time.

    In February 1990, Richter was finally ready to write music again, inspired by the desire to compose a choral work in Alan’s honor, after she found two poems marked...

  12. 7 Blooming: 2000s–Present
    (pp. 113-128)

    SINCE THE YEAR 2000, Richter has composed music of a more intimate nature, employing a simpler harmonic and melodic language but still embodying her distinctive voice. These works include several song cycles, some of a humorous nature, a variety of chamber music, a return to solo piano music, and two unaccompanied woodwind pieces (clarinet and oboe). Almost all of them were commissioned, and all have been performed. One of them, Threnody for string trio, was written in memory of her father, and several others were written in response to the emotional turmoil of a romantic interlude that deepened but then...

    (pp. 129-130)

    TAKING OLD AGE IN STRIDE, Richter has not thought of retiring and remains focused on composition. She continues to spend summers in Vermont and enjoys the beauty around her and visiting with professional colleagues, friends, and family. In her zest for living and her dedication to her art, Richter is a role model for younger composers and performers.

    Richter’s musical style has remained fairly constant throughout her life. Dissonance, slowly unfolding free forms, ostinatos and layering, a loose tonality—all of these are present in her earliest works and last throughout her compositional career. Her later works are less dissonant...

    (pp. 131-136)
  15. NOTES
    (pp. 137-148)
    (pp. 149-152)
    (pp. 153-160)
  18. INDEX
    (pp. 161-170)
  19. Back Matter
    (pp. 171-175)